Performance of a lifetime from Sheridan Smith
For many actors, there’s a role they’ll always be remembered for, no matter what else they do. Sean Connery as James Bond, Mark Rylance as Rooster Byron in Jerusalem, Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien.
I suspect, when the day comes to present Sheridan Smith with her lifetime Olivier Award, her role as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl will be seen as the moment she achieved greatness.
The production, originally staged at the Menier Chocolate Factory and then the Savoy Theatre, would be worth seeing simply because Funny Girl is an excellent musical but what makes it exceptional is Smith’s performance. I saw her before on stage in Legally Blonde, on film in Tower Block and in various TV appearances including Cilla and Gavin And Stacey, so I knew she was good but I never appreciated just how funny she is and just how deeply she can occupy a role.
She makes her character seem real, a genuinely complicated human being. But there’s more to it than that. I don’t doubt that the real Fanny Brice was uniquely great but Sheridan Smith’s acting makes you believe you are seeing one of the finest stage performers of all time.
You can see a live recording of Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl on digitaltheatre.com